I don’t ride the Aerosmith Rockin’ Roller Coaster. It’s just not my thing. So I’m sitting in my traditional spot, waiting for the rest of the family to enjoy their thrill.

I’m content with the people watching.


Earl and I recently upgraded the console display in our 2016 Jeep Cherokee to include navigation. I have to admit, for a automotive company born product, it works quite well and is very intuitive. I believe the underlying operating system is QNX.

Voice commands work well, but you have to be more specific with your wording versus how you would talk to Alexa or Siri and especially Google. Instead of saying “take me to the closest gas station” I’ve found you have to say “Find directions to the closest gas station.” Response is quick; she’s just picky about my verbiage. My “Great Lakes” accent is not a problem, she can parse my flat As just fine.

One of the things I like is the inclusion of the speed limit for the stretch of road you’re on. I’ve watched this on and off during our travels today and it updates almost immediately when the physical speed limit changes on the roadway. With this navigation upgrade the time is also synced to GPS. That’s nice when you’re bouncing between time zones. Also, because I’m focused on these sorts of things, the clock advances when my Apple watch advances, since they’re all using the same time source. I like all clocks around me to be in sync.

The navigation system offers three routes for your desired destination: the fastest, the closest, and the most economical. It will also sync with contacts lists and the like on your phone so we can say “Find directions to Jamie’s house” and it knows where we want to go.

At first we thought the navigation enhancement was unnecessary because we have Google Maps or Apple Maps on our phones; but honestly, it’s nice to not fiddle around with the phone when you’re trying to get somewhere on the road. Having everything on a well laid out screen and easily accessible is a safer approach. Chrysler offered a $150 discount on the service this week and that’s what prompted us to make the purchase.

The technology is very cool and the data geek is really enjoying the enhancements in the Jeep. I highly recommend the service if you’re in the market for that sort of thing.

Eye Twitch.

During our travels last weekend, I noticed this washer and dryer at the hotel we were staying at. To the casual observer, it appears that this washer and dryer are a matching set. The controls and the styling of both appliances match well.

There’s one difference between the two that was driving me crazy.

Why couldn’t they get two matching machines with the same brand name?


“Alexa, turn on the counter lights!”

Nothing happens. I look up at the lights, just a moment away from wiggling my nose in an attempt to try to turn on the lights. “Alexa, turn on the kitchen counter lights!”

Not even a glimmer, nor a blink, nor a bit of smoke.

I then remember that these lights require the manual use of a light switch. How barbaric.

We have a lot of automation throughout the house. The majority of lights are controlled through if…then statements, Internet voodoo, and screaming repetitive commands at our Amazon Echos strategically placed throughout the condo. Fans turn on and off on their own. Lights blink when the Cubs win. Lamps change color when rain or lightning is detected within a certain radius of our neighborhood. Our fire alarm talks to us, our thermostat responds to our whims.

But flipping a switch to turn on the lamps hanging over the breakfast bar? Barbaric.

Ecobee is getting ready to release a wall switch that has Alexa (Amazon Echo) built into it. It has a motion sensor, a speaker and it also functions at a regular light switch. I think it would look über cool in the entryway to our kitchen.

It’s also a bit pricey at the moment.

Honestly, I’m debating as to whether to beg the budgeting department (my husband) for the money to buy the switch. The existing wall switch works just fine. It just requires manual effort.

When did I get so spoiled?


I’m sitting on the couch, wrapped up in a blanket, because it’s still cold in the Windy City during this second week of March. I’m wrapped up for the duration of my lunch hour. I am resisting the urge to curl up in the suggestion of sun near the balcony door. That would be very cat like.

Daylight Saving Time begins this weekend in the United States. Florida is trying to pass legislation for the “Sunshine Protection Act”, which would exempt the state from participating in this outdated, asinine, geared-for-the-lowest-common-denominator practice of swinging around the clocks so that we are blessed with “extra daylight”. There is no extra daylight, and unless something jimmies the planet out of its current orbit or somehow modifies the way things have worked for literally billions of years, there will be no extra sunlight when you awake on Sunday morning wondering if you should eat breakfast or lunch. Me? I’ll probably just drink.

If you want extra sunlight get up earlier and stop selfishly demanding that everyone around you modify their clocks so you can go for a walk after work. We all know you’re not going to do that. Americans don’t do that. They sit at home, lap up the crap spewed from the idiot box and surf the internet. There’s no “enjoying extra sunlight” and if anyone claims that DST is the savior of all of society’s ails by artificially moving around an artificial measurement of the passage of time, they need to be promptly slapped across the face with an open hand. Do it twice.

I’m going to go back to being burrowed under my blanket.

Movie Night.

Earl and I met up with Jamie and Chris for family movie night. We are striving to make this a weekly occurrence; we are aiming for Wednesday night to be the chosen night as this helps breaking up the routine of the work week. I love having our family together whenever we can.

Last week we got together, went out for a quick bite to eat and then sat down and watched “Call Me By Your Name”.

I knew nothing of the movie when we started watching it. By the end of the movie I was crying a bit. As a gay man in his very late 40s, I appreciated the movie’s backdrop of the 1980s and I especially enjoyed the coming of age story. While I’ve never had the opportunity to run through the fields of Italy at age 17, madly in love with an older man, there were elements of the love story that reminded me of my more innocent years. The movie’s music score was amazing; the cinematography was beautiful. I can see why the content of the movie would make some uncomfortable but the story felt very much at home for me. I identified with the spirit of the characters. I would watch the movie again without hesitation. As far as Oscar noms go, I enjoyed it more than “The Shape of Water”. That’s just me.

Tonight we watched “Lady Bird”. I was vaguely aware of this movie before the Oscars but after watching the awards this past weekend I told Earl that we needed to start watching more Oscar-worthy movies, and “Lady Bird” was close to the top of the list for me.

Another “coming of age” story of sorts, the character development of “Lady Bird” was quite good. Admittedly, I did have a little bit of an issue separating Laurie Metcalf’s character from her portrayal of Sheldon’s mother on “The Big Bang Theory” (I expected more god-fearing Christian talk coming out of her mouth) but following the senior year of Lady Bird was a little bit of an enlightening experience. The character was woven through her coming of age story with a heavy intricacy. The movie ended where I didn’t expect it to, and at first I felt like I was left hanging but then after a few moments of reflection I realized that it ended at the proper place in the narrative.

I’m purposely writing all of these things in a vague manner because I don’t want to go into spoiler territory.

“Lady Bird” had a different vibe from “Call Me By Your Name”, but both viewing experiences were enjoyable for me. I’m feeling the need to step away from the theatrical blockbusters, well, maybe except for the upcoming Infinity War and some of the things that Disney has coming out this year, but the indie and insightful movies are piquing my interest these days.

Everyone should have a family movie night.


The modern spin on “11 12” from Sesame Street. They updated it nicely while keeping The Pointer Sisters’ original audio around.


I was recently chastised on Twitter for mentioning that I had “OCD tendencies”. I don’t remember the tweet that I was responding to at the time, oh, yes I do, it had to do with people still criticizing Apple for “the notch” in the iPhone X. I said that if I could survive using an iPhone X 18 hours a day with the notch not bothering my “OCD tendencies” then it must not be a big deal.

The criticism was you either have OCD or you don’t, it’s like being partly pregnant and you can’t do OCD part way. Well excuse me for living.

I didn’t bother replying to the criticism about my choice of words surrounding OCD because it wasn’t really worth my time and the exercise would have been futile. I’ve never been clinically labeled with OCD but I can tell you this:

  1. I will always straighten a crooked picture
  2. I will always eat my meals by eating one food at a time, even deconstruction a meatball sub by eating the cheese first, eating all the meatballs, then eating the bread. I do the same thing with salads, eating all the cucumbers first, the tomatoes next and so on
  3. I have a bad habit of correcting people during a conversation, for example, when they say “I could care less” (because it’s “I couldN’T care less”). I know, it’s rude of me
  4. Road signs with off-center legend makes me crazy
  5. This list could go on and on but you get the picture

My productivity practices, which include both my personal and professional lives, involve using a very specific way of me keeping my “to do” list organized. Because of my love for Apple products, I have always used macOS and iOS based software to manage all of my thoughts and subsequent Task Lists, namely using the software OmniFocus. I’ve used OmniFocus for many years. When work took away all the Macs and told us we had to use a Windows laptop to stay in compliance with company IT practices, I lost my ability to access OmniFocus on my work computer. This change in policy took effective October 1, 2017, and since then my focus has been less than stellar because I’ve been trying to find a way to compensate with some sort of “cross-platform” approach. The “OCD-like” side of me is bothered by the fact that I can no longer access the same list from all of my devices. I’ve tried a number of solutions to no avail:

  1. Google Keep (which makes me crazy because I’m feeding Google’s ad habits) is blocked at work
  2. I tried writing things down on paper but I don’t walk around with a notebook with me at all times, so when I had an idea I would type it into Notes on my iPhone but then have to remember to add it to the “official” written Task List
  3. I tried keeping lists in OneNote, the company sanctioned software, but the less-than-stellar quality of Microsoft’s software resulted in syncing issues, forgetting my credentials for my work account, and lost information
  4. I tried maintaining a plain-text file using ToDo.txt on Dropbox, which would have been available throughout all of my devices, until work blocked Dropbox because we are allowed to use only Microsoft’s OneDrive for “cloud storage”

I’ve ended up firing up my work Mac, which I still have in my possession with a claim that I need backup in case my Windows laptop dies. As a remote employee I always need a backup plan. This is working fairly well except that it’s bothering me to have two different laptops sitting on my desk. The Mac isn’t allowed to officially talk to the work network anymore, but it does work with the Office 365 connection so I can get to email and push things from my email into OmniFocus, but the solution is less than perfect.

Less than perfect bothers me.

My need for perfection, an “OCD-like” tendency of mine, is breaking my focus on getting my work done and making me focus on how I need to get my work done. Not having one bucket at my disposal anywhere I need to have it is distracting me. It takes my headphones and a well designed app called “Focus@Will” to help me find my productive center again and get back to writing code and leading my team.

I think I’ve found a solution with the Mac sitting next to my work-sanctioned Windows laptop and I’m going to have to keep swiveling my chair back and forth as needs arise.

It’s not perfect, and I’ll probably continue to tweak my process, but it’s probably the closest I’ll come to getting back to my productivity nirvana.